MAXINE Peake, not content with being one of this country's finest stage and screen actresses, is, quite rightly, forging a reputation as one of our leading playwrights too.
Queens of the Coal Age tells the truly inspirational tale of a group of miners wives, who occupied the Parkside Colliery in 1993, as a once proud industry was in its death throes, thanks to the Tories brutal pit closure programme, a project driven by spite rather than economics.
But Peake, to her credit, never preaches to the audience and most of the first act is full of humour as the ladies, as tough as the rock their men hack through, get used to their new surroundings.
Also, considerable praise must be afforded the production's design team, who effectively re-create what it must have been like to venture hundreds of feet below ground. So, take a bow designer Georgia Lowe and lighting man Elliot Griggs, for giving us an atmosphere that does verge on the claustrophobic at times.
Put characters with very different personalities into a confined space and you have the recipe for fun and friction, both of which are brought to the surface with equal effect by director Bryony Shanahan and a strong largely all woman cast who were born to play these roles.
There's a strong chemistry between these miners' lasses, bound together by a common cause. Kate Anthony is simply brilliant as Annie Scargill, wife of the NUM leader Arthur while Jane Hazlegrove of Casualty fame is simply perfect as the straight talking Dot. Kate's recounting of Annie's appalling and degrading treatment at the hands of the authorities was so moving you could see the shameful scene being replayed before your vry eyes.
You simply must see this, the RET's production of the season for me.
* Until July 28. The box office is on 0161 833 9833. Star rating - ****